Bottom-up Geopolitics and Everyday Brexits at the Gibraltar-Spain Border

Federica Bono, Arie Stoffelen

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Brexit has opened doors for renewed attention to contested, multi-scalar geopolitical forces grounded in everyday life in borderlands. In this paper, we aim to unravel ‘everyday Brexits’ in the Gibraltar–La Línea (Spain) borderlands. By studying the 2019 commemoration of the historic 1969 border closure, we concentrate on how local borderwork by residents is mobilised for bottom-up geopolitics in the context of Brexit negotiations. We use a conceptual approach that focuses on multiple layerings of the border and the selectivity of stakeholders to select among these layers to pursue their interests. Based on on-site observations, in-depth interviews, and informal conversations with residents and key actors of La Línea and Gibraltar, we argue that Brexit has increased the tension of already loaded core-periphery relations in Spain. Brexit does not represent a sudden disruption. Rather, we show how Brexit allowed the bottom-up geopolitical mobilisation of latent, strongly historically embedded and continuous cross-borders sentiments of residents. This mobilisation could potentially challenge local cross-border power relations. In the final analysis, we conclude that the bottom-up geopolitics of ‘ordinary’ residents through everyday bordering processes is central to geopolitics research, including with regard to Brexit and in particular for non-British geographies affected by Brexit.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21-Dec-2020

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